Potential (pə-tĕn′shəl) : 1. The possibility that something might happen or result from given conditions. 2. capable of being or becoming.
Potential is an interesting concept. I like to subscribe to the view that everyone has potential. Potential is energy, and we all have energy because we are all dynamic beings.
This line of thinking relates to the maxim found in Process Philosophy: to be is to be dynamic. Therefore, according to Process Philosophy, any philosophical account of reality should focus on the concept that everything in the world is in constant flux.
In more practical terms, this means – how do we process and adapt to change? How do we classify novel occurrences and conditions? Typical of philosophical musings, questions will build upon questions. How do we realise in our mind our ways of becoming? To clarify: how do we harness potential? How do we go from potential ideas and potential outcomes, to reality?
During my time wandering around Bogong and its surrounds, it is hard to ignore the hydroelectricity scheme. Its presence is everywhere and permeates everything – in fact, Bogong Village wouldn’t have existed if not for hydroelectricity. The myriad creeks and rivers, with all that potential energy, has been harnessed into electrical energy. We control the flow of energy now, utilising a system of dams and gates.
Madelynne and I came a little too close to experiencing the potential power of a rushing river the other day while on a long hike through the mountains; one slip in the rapid currents and we would’ve gone tumbling over unforgiving boulders. In that case, it wasn’t so much harnessing the potential of the river (no thanks!), but rather the potential in ourselves to resolve a situation. Fortunately we did make it across with some help, by harnessing the potential in some experienced local kayakers.
For me, the first step of harnessing any potential situation is to say, “Yes” to any rising opportunity. A tangent: I am a massive Doctor Who fan – one of those obsessive tragics who not only watches the TV show (past and present), but avidly listens to the audio-books. In one interview, Sylvester McCoy (who played the Seventh Doctor) remarked that his greatest problem was that he never said no to anything. It was always, “Yes”. “Do you want to join our acting group?,” he was asked once. “Yes,” was his response. Thus his career as an actor was born (despite him never having any acting experience at the time).
I share a similar approach to life. A personal example:“Do you want to come tour Cambodia?” my friend Brian Dunne (at one point known as the poet Prozac Boy and leader of the infamous Perth band Potato Stars) asked me earlier this year. “Yes,” I said. Never been to Cambodia, never toured overseas as a musician. However, we did it – a gloriously flawed and chaotic three-show, five-day tour where I’d never played any Potato Stars songs before I’d arrived, let alone with the musicians we picked up along the way – but it was a great opportunity.
Before undertaking this residency, I said to myself that I’ll be open to any opportunities for growth in my practice while here. My practice is starting to mature – I said, “Yes,” to the concept of shooting videos to expand my practice, and have found that a very rewarding exercise. Before my residency here, I haven’t had a lot of experience with shooting videos (shaky videos on my phone don’t count). I’ve been given ample opportunity to indulge here. Videos give a different dynamic to photography. Photography is a single frozen moment in time. Videos are a collection of moments, looping in a bubble.
Come to think of it, many things in life hinge on that one, fateful, “Yes.” Bogong Village would probably never have existed if people didn’t say, “Yes,” to harnessing the rivers. Bogong Centre For Sound Culture would not have existed if two people didn’t say, “Yes,” to the concept of exploring the local environs through the prism of art.
I wouldn’t be here in Bogong if I hadn’t said, “Yes,” when offered the residency.
It is interesting how the world opens up when you acknowledge the potentials in any given situation. Like the rivers that run around Bogong – if you are prepared to move with the flow, things will happen.